It’s often said that you never visit what’s on your doorstep. Sometimes because the attractions become so familiar that you just expect them to always be there. And sometimes it’s because you don’t know they exist. Or maybe you do know they exist, as you’ve heard their name, but you have no idea what’s there and why you should visit.
If one of those places you’ve heard of but never visited is Strawberry Hill House you should definitely make the effort to go. It’s only a short walk from Strawberry Hill station after catching a train from London Waterloo.
Strawberry Hill House
This is an impressive Gothic revival house in Twickenham, that was created by Horace Walpole in the 18th century. It is Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture and inspired the first gothic novel – The Castle of Otranto.
The house was bought in 1747 by Horace Walpole, son of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister. He transformed it into a “little Gothic castle” between 1749 and 1790, providing a purpose built home for his growing collection of paintings, ceramics, coins and artefacts.
Inside the building the rooms lead you from mysterious dark space to light, open spaces. You’ll even find yourself venturing through passages into hidden rooms.
Why visit now?
Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill is an exhibition running until 24th February. It showcases many of the artefacts that used to fill the house, many of them to be placed into original locations for this time period.
Horace Walpole’s collection was one of the most important of the 18th century. He designed the interiors of his home to showcase his collection. Unfortunately the collection was sold in 1842. Spread over 24 days, the sale was an important society event, with special steamers laid on to take prospective buyers and tourists down the Thames from the centre of London.
The Lost Treasure exhibition brings back the treasures that have been dispersed for over 170 years and allows visitors to see the house as Walpole conceived it. Many of the pieces will be shown in their original positions.
Strawberry Hill Treasure Hunt
No, this isn’t a hunt you can go on yourself. Instead this is a series of blogs describing how the treasures that were sold were traced so they could be included in the exhibition.
“Ever wondered what it takes to unearth long lost artworks? What kind of detective work is required to retrace treasured antiques and objets d’art scattered two hundred years ago? This is the fate that befell the celebrated collection of antiquarian and man of letters, Horace Walpole, once displayed in his home, Strawberry Hill House. Centuries on, this series first will follow art historian and provenance researcher, Silvia Davoli, in her hunt for the lost treasures of Strawberry Hill and her bid to restore Walpole’s collections to his legendary gothic rooms.”
Strawberry Hill House & Garden, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham TW1 4ST
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Guy Fawkes, from ‘Peeps into the Past’
Born in York to Edward and Edith Fawkes, Guy Fawkes was baptised a Protestant at St Michael le Belfry on the 16th April 1570. His father was a proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York, who died when the boy was eight. Guy’s mother later married a Catholic, Dionis Baynbrigge and Guy Fawkes converted to Roman Catholic.
Guy Fawkes went to Europe to fight for the Spanish Catholics in the Eighty Years War. While fighting in Flanders, he was asked by Thomas Wintour to join a plot by Robert Catesby to kill the Protestant King James and as many Members of Parliament as possible.
In 1604 Fawkes met Robert Catesby, along with Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy and John Wright and at the Duck and Drake Inn to plan the conspiracy. Over time they were…
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Halloween-themed haunted houses first emerged during the Great Depression as ways to distract young tricksters. Groups of families would deck out their basements with home made scary decorations. Then they would hold “house-to-house” parties, where the children would travel from basement to basement, experiencing different scary scenes.
Trails Of Terror
A 1937 party pamphlet is quoted in Lisa Morton’s book “Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween” which describes how parents designed “trails of terror” to spook the children.
Trick or Treat examines the origins and history of Halloween as well as exploring its current global popularity. The book takes readers on a journey from the spectacular to the macabre, making it a must for anyone who wants to peep behind the mask to see the real past and present of this ever more popular holiday.
This summer we visited the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bruges. On the way to our hotel, we passed one of the large art installations currently situated on the canals.
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Sitting on the edge of Epping Forest, on the London/Essex border, is the London suburb of Chingford. It is host to an array of urban and countryside heritage.
Originally the whole parish of Chingford lay within the ancient Forest of Essex. The Domesday figures for swine-pastures show that Chingford was well-wooded in the 11th century, although the parish had a considerable amount of arable land, which was increased by subsequent forest clearance. Chingford’s woodland is still similar in size to its area of woodland in the 1640’s.
Epping Forest and Chingford Plain became popular with day-trippers in Victorian times. As London’s largest open space, Epping Forest is a registered charity managed by the City of London.
Spend some time in “The View” learning the story and history of the forest.
Then visit the listed buildings on the edge of Epping Forest, including the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
The town of Chingford began as a scattered farming community. Comprising of three forest hamlets, the inhabitants of Chingford had the ancient right to pasture cattle, branded with their mark, a crowned ‘G’, within the forest.
There has been a parish church in Chingford since Norman times. The present Old Church building dates from the late 13th century. However the church building had to be abandoned in the 1840’s as it was in such a bad state of repair. The Reverend Robert Boothby Heathcote decided to build, at his own expense, a new church on Chingford Green. The new Church on the Green, designed by Lewis Vulliamy, was built in 1844 and established the prominence of the Chingford Green hamlet .
During Victorian times nearby Walthamstow and Leyton experienced a surge in urbanisation, but Chingford remained an agricultural parish until the arrival of the Great Eastern Railway.
The Chingford Green conservation area includes a variety of interesting buildings showing Chingford’s development over two hundred years from a small rural community to a suburb of modern London.
The Chingford Treasure Hunt
It didn’t seem that long ago that my intrepid team of investigators were dispatched to UCL Museums to solve a fiendish murder mystery. Now our help was needed again.
This time a young curator had disappeared.
The next few hours were spent combing the UCL museums, searching for clues. The team visited the Grant Museum of Zoology and discovered the suspect Doris Mackinnon. They moved on to the Petrie Museum where Violette LaFleur came under suspicion. On to the UCL Art Museum where Winifred Knights was implicated. Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the final name in the frame, found in the pop-up pathology museum.
This event was more of a treasure hunt than a murder mystery. At each location the team answered clues and found letters that feed into a larger puzzle.
Yes, my team found the answers to all the clues and the names of all the suspects, as well as the room codes, but we failed to win the final prize.
A fun night out that ended with burgers, wraps and ice creams outside UCL.
Treasure Hunts in London
Treasure Hunts in London offers a range of self guided treasure hunts, as well as fully managed experiences, throughout London.
Taking part is easy. Start by downloading the free ClueKeeper app for your mobile device on the App Store or Google Play. Then decide which Treasure Hunts in London self guided hunt you want to experience. There are currently five to choose from
The ClueKeeper app gives you the clues and provide hints along the way. Once you have the answer, submit it on your smartphone or tablet. ClueKeeper will tell you where to go next. You can even use the hunts as walking tours using the skip answer function.
All the treasure hunts have been carefully planned so they offer a wide range of clues. Some clues are harder than others so it appeals to all skill levels.
Discover mysterious alleyways and hidden parks as well as famous landmarks as you explore the city. Find out some of the history of the area.
We recommend teams of 4, but teams can be 2 to 6 players. And you only need one app per team.